O'Hearn and Henderson pace offense, Burnes cruises through 7 to lead Orioles to 5-2 win and 4-game sweep of Rays - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

O’Hearn and Henderson pace offense, Burnes cruises through 7 to lead Orioles to 5-2 win and 4-game sweep of Rays

Photo Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel USA TODAY Sports

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ST. PETERSBURG—What happened? Ryan O’Hearn had three hits and three RBIs, Gunnar Henderson hit his 21st home run and scored three runs, and Corbin Burnes delivered another excellent start as the Orioles completed a four-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-2, before 14,686 at Tropicana Field on Monday night.

Henderson homered on the first pitch of the game by Ryan Pepiot (4-3), his seventh leadoff home run of the season.

He also singled and scored on O’Hearn’s two-run double in the fifth and doubled and scored on O’Hearn’s run-scoring single in the seventh.

James McCann, who caught Burnes for the fifth consecutive time, hit his second home run in the third.

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Burnes (7-2) allowed two unearned runs in the second when second baseman Jordan Westburg dropped an easy pop fly with two outs, his first error of the season. It allowed José Caballero to reach. Alex Jackson, who was batting .043, (2-for-46), hit a two-run home run.

Closer Craig Kimbrel pitched a scoreless ninth for his 15th save.

It was the first time the Orioles have swept the Rays in a four-game series at Tropicana Field. They split four games in Toronto to begin the trip.

“A four-game sweep on the road is impressive no matter who you beat,” Burnes said. “This is a good team that’s done a lot of winning in the past years. To come in and really do everything well, pitch great, play good defense, hit the ball well, it’s tough to beat us when we’re doing all those things well.”

How consistent is Burnes? This was Burnes’ ninth straight quality start (six or more innings, three or fewer earned runs).

“I feel like I’m throwing the ball well,” Burnes said. “But I think there’s a lot of room to improve.”

Manager Brandon Hyde knows how important Burnes is during this arduous month when the Orioles have just one offday.

“Especially with a seven-man ‘pen and we’re in this big of a stretch,” Hyde said. “To be able to rely on him almost every time out to be able to do what he did tonight was a nice luxury to have.”

Burnes gave up three singles in his final five innings.

“In the middle innings, we were able to get some quick ones and get the pitch count back under control,” Burnes said. “I threw a lot of pitches early and they took some good [at-bats].

“Capitalized on their aggressiveness. They were trying to hit the first couple of pitches … Used it to our advantage, got some double plays and quick outs.”

In Burnes’ last three starts, all wins, he threw seven innings in each one and has allowed just one earned run on 12 hits. His earned-run average is 2.08.

How big were O’Hearn’s hits? O’Hearn, who was the designated hitter, had a productive series with six hits in 17 at-bats, four RBIs, two doubles and a home run.

“He can really grind out an at-bat. He gets big hits for us constantly,” Hyde said.

“From a player’s perspective, it’s really being ready when your name is called, and having confidence in your abilities and going out there and competing,” O’Hearn said. “It’s not always the prettiest at-bats. I like even more that it’s ‘grindy’ at-bats, finding ways to just foul off pitches and eventually get the job done.”

Why does McCann catch Burnes? For the fifth straight time, McCann caught Burnes, although Hyde denies he’s become his personal catcher.

“It’s actually more coincidence than anything,” Hyde said. “It’s how we’ve been matched up, opponent-wise and day games, but Mac’s done a great job with Burnesy.”

“We’ve had success working together,” McCann said. “He’s had success working with a lot of catchers. I treat it as if I’m ready to go every day. When my name is called, I do everything I can to help the team win.

“It’s a lot of fun. He has good stuff. His command is really good. He understands how to pitch. He understands what he does well and he’s really good at identifying things in his opponents’ game planning. The whole gamut. He comes as advertised.

“He didn’t win a Cy Young [by] accident. He hasn’t put up the numbers he’s put up [by] accident. There’s a reason behind all of it. He’s a lot more fun to catch than to try to hit off.”

What is the injury update?  Outfielders Austin Hays and Kyle Stowers were held out of the game. Hyde said that Hays has rib and back injuries, and Stowers has a right wrist injury.

“I want to believe they’re getting better, I hope,” Hyde said. “They’re both taking swings. They’re day-to-day.”

Infielder/outfielder Jorge Mateo should return from the 7-day concussion injured list in the next few days, Hyde said.

Hyde said that starting pitcher Dean Kremer, who’s on the 15-day injured list with right triceps muscle strain, threw a side session on Monday.

What’s the new uniform patch? Beginning Tuesday night, the Orioles will be wearing a uniform patch on their right sleeve featuring T. Rowe Price, which signed a long-term sponsorship with the team.

What’s the word? “Our younger guys, they don’t really understand it, that this is not normal. You just don’t go on the road and sweep a team four times, no matter what their record is. This is super hard to do in the major leagues.”-Hyde on the Orioles’ four-game sweep.  

What does it mean? The Orioles are 8-3 since beginning their difficult stretch on May 31st. It gets even tougher because they have three games against the Braves, three against the Phillies and three at Yankee Stadium coming up.

What’s the stat of the day? 2. Westburg has just two errors in 150 major league games.

What’s next? Albert Suárez (2-0, 1.83) will face Max Fried (6-2, 2.93) on Tuesday night at 6:35 when the Orioles open a series with the Atlanta Braves

Call for questions: Most weekdays, I’ll be answering at least one Orioles question. Please send yours to: [email protected]

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